Monday, September 24, 2012

Muse Online Writers Conference

Hi Lea,   

I’m so glad you were able to take time out of your mega busy schedule to come over to Rockin the Fodder and tell us more about this year’s upcoming Muse Online Writers Conference

The Muse Online Writers Conference has been going strong for 4 years now, and while many folks know you are the brilliant mind behind this amazing offering to writers, there are still many who have not been enlightened as to what The Muse Online Writers Conference is, nor do they have any idea what they have been missing out on all these years.

The Muse Online Writers Conference runs for one week, from October 8th - 14th and is FREE to all wishing to participate. If I counted right, you have at least ten small press publishers that are sponsors of the conference, and each of these publishers not only offer daily and week long workshops, they host pitch sessions for writers, unpublished and published, as well! 

I personally have benefited from the valuable information gleaned from many of the workshops over the last couple of years, including but not limited to, an in-depth week long workshop on research, a workshop about thriller writing and espionage, workshops on historical writing and horror writing, and everyone’s favorite: How to market your work.

Lea could you tell us a little about the inception of The Muse Online Writers Conference, and what hurdles you had to clear to get the Conference where it is today?

LEA: It’s great to be here, Sara. The conference came about when authors were asked if they had ever attended a writers’ conference. There were three distinct answers coming in:
  1. No…can’t afford it
  2. No…too expensive to travel
  3. No…have a disability and can’t attend

I thought how sad to see so many writers missing an opportunity to mingle and network with professionals and fellow peers…and began formulating a plan along with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, to set up an online conference, offering workshops for FREE.

The only hurdles I’ve ever encountered was my time limit to organize it. I’ve been very lucky these past few years where a team of moderators, and the conference website tech gal, have all volunteered their time to make this yearly conference a reality.

RTF: The conference has won several awards from writing websites such as Predators and Editors. Not to mention this stellar recognition: Top 101 sites by Writers Digest!

Tell us about the presenters and what varied backgrounds and experience they bring to the conference year after year. 

LEA: Each of the presenters are experts in their field or fields. From award-winning authors, editors, publishers, etc…they each bring in their know-how to help educate and further enhance writers’ knowledge in so many different workshop topics.

RTF: Tell us about the pitch sessions. They sound stressful to any new writer wanting to get published. Can you give writers, hoping to get published some day, any tips on what the publishers/agents are looking for?

LEA: Yes, a pitch can be nerve-wracking for sure. Lol! But the beauty of it all is that it’s not a face-to-face pitch so the publishers/agents don’t see the sweat pouring down. Hehe

During a pitch they are looking for that ‘different’ manuscript that has turned the everyday story we may have read a thousand times into something unique and their own, not a copycat. There is one Twilight…we don’t need more of the same. 

They are also watching for authors who know how to play the ‘branding’ game, meaning authors who truly understand this business, and don’t wait for a contract to begin promoting themselves as writers. They begin building a following from the start. 

They want to know that the author knows their stories inside out, watching the answers to their questions to see a hesitation. When there is one, then it’s likely that the book was not thoroughly outlined. For example, I asked a writer once: why her character, from all the ones in her story, was the one best suited to tell this story? The response was, “Because I chose her and like her.” Now, obviously writers connect with their characters but that wasn’t a sufficient answer. She could have answered: because her past history directly coincides with the villain’s path, only my heroine can have the intuition of what’s happening around her, and this dilemma will allow her the opportunity to grow and get stronger by the end. 

That answer would have shown me that thought into developing the character was thoroughly sketched. This is just off the top of my head, but hopefully my example explains what I mean.

RTF: I’ve gotten a peak at this year's workshops and I’m stoked to sign up and learn more about writing from these folks who have been in the business for many years. 

Can you give us a brief run down of this year's workshops, and any tips on deciding which workshops a writer should focus on. (There are so many great workshops offered, but only superwoman or superman could participate in them all.) That’s why I have to keep coming back every year!

LEA: There are so many more workshops I need to add into the website…so little time, which brings me back to that first response about my hurdles being, time not on my side.  

Writers should focus on their weak areas, workshops that will help them better understand and allow them to grow. They are more than free to attend all of the workshops, but I highly advise them to focus on a few and give it their all. Attending all of the workshops in their spare time will help them evaluate whether or not a particular workshop is of interest to them.  Every year there are a few attendees who didn’t think this or that workshop would interest them, but they popped in to check out that forum workshop, and were pleasantly surprised to be pulled into that subject.

RTF: I understand the deadline to register for this year’s conference is September 25th. Can you briefly explain the registration process for those new to The Muse Online Writers Conference?

LEA: Actually, the registration will be open until the end of September only because of my lack of time to fully update the website. The registration is quite easy and details are listed here:

*Once they’ve set up their forum account, and it's very important to jot down their username and password to avoid any hassles during the conference to enter. They will need to enter the forum and locate the REGISTRATION FOR 2012 forum room and answer the poll. This is vital because ONLY those who answer the poll will have access to our private forum in October.

**To know whether or not the process was done correctly, they should log in, go to that registration forum and locate the poll. If there is no linkable poll to take, then it means you were successful. However, if you are able to link to the poll and respond to it, then please do.

RTF: Thank you Lea! And there you have it, The Muse Online Writers Conference is right around the corner, so if you haven't already, and have a desire to enhance your writing skills (no matter what your writing level) you will want to get over to the registration link above. 

Maybe we'll see you there!

*note this year's dates are October 8th-14th